Here’s the thing: I don’t fall in love with every book. It’s impossible. Authors, readers, reviewers – we’re all different people! And that’s what makes it special, because if we were all the same and we all liked the same things it’d be so boring.
Reviewing a book is such a subjective thing. Something one reader dislikes could be something another reader appreciates. But we share our opinions anyway. And why is that? There are so many books out there. When I’m looking for something new to read, rather than pulling a book at random (that happens, occasionally!) I’ll often read reviews or consult friends.
And likewise, if I like a book, I want to share it with others. There’s a desire to help promote the book, because I enjoyed it and believe others will, too. Specifically, I’ll want to explain why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. In every one of my reviews, I try to be as specific as possible (without spoilers, of course!).
I liked this book because…the characters were well-developed (I’ll usually give an example), the plot was original, the world building was fantastic (this is typically due to detail, or imagery), the book was humorous, etc.
Likewise, if I DIDN’T like the book, I write a review simply to explain my reasoning. And, often, the very things that I like about some books cause my dislike for others.
I didn’t like this book because…the characters weren’t well-developed (and fell flat), the plot was too predictable, the world-building was shallow, the book didn’t live up to its description (i.e., it WASN’T humorous as the back flap said it would be), etc.
In everything I write, I want to be honest. This includes all of my book reviews. That said, I will NEVER attack an author or insult their work. When it comes to writing a book review, there needs to be a level of respect. If I didn’t like the book, I will say so. But I will always try to explain why, and I’ll always try to find something I did like about the book (a redeeming quality).
And I believe it’s important to recognize when a book didn’t work for you simply because it’s not your favorite genre, or you didn’t agree with the subject matter. Because that’s entirely personal preference.
Last week I reviewed a book I didn’t like. I was actually quite surprised when I finished reading this book and realized I just didn’t like it much. I considered not writing a review, because I knew I’d have to be honest about my feelings. But I realized that wouldn’t be quite fair, to only post positive reviews.
I hope I wrote an honest but respectful review. I’ve actually read a glowing review of the same novel by a blogger I admire, and so I recognize there will always be differences of opinions. What I wrote about the novel is my personal opinion, and I did my best to explicitly explain it. I don’t often write negative reviews, and that’s what prompted me to write this post. It just felt like something I needed to address. Often, what I write/post on my blog is a record of what I’ve learned or am currently learning.
Please share your thoughts about reading/writing negative book reviews. Let’s have a conversation.